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By UNICEF Office, Odisha
“I wish to become a bank officer. I like Maths; hence I opted to study Commerce. The money that I will earn from my bank job, I want to use it for the welfare of the poor people of our village,” says 19-year-old Anjali Adjued. During her free time, she takes tuition classes for school children and earns ₹700 a month, which she uses to travel to college and pay her college fee.
In the face of the COVID-19 lockdown, Anjali has taken up the task of creating awareness around prevention and precautions to take to protect oneself from the deadly infection.
Anjali was barely two years old when she lost her father in a gas leak tragedy. When the relatives from her father’s family refused to support them, her mother took her to live with her maternal grandparents. Anjali’s interest in studies encouraged her grandparents to continue sending her to school.
In 2015, however, things changed. Her grandparents’ inability to continue supporting her pushed them to send her to a Child Care institution, expecting her to build a good life for herself there. Through the Youth Council for Development Alternatives (YCDA), an implementing partner of UNICEF for alternative care, Anjali was aligned with a sponsorship program under the Integrated Child Protective Scheme, for three years, during which she completed her matriculation.
Simultaneously, the family was also linked with various income generation programs for financial support. Anjali’s grandfather, an active member of district Alternative Caregivers Association, Bolangir was granted short-term-rotational loans for three years for farming. The family is now financially self-sustained, and Anjali is voluntarily assisting YCDA to implement various social good activities in her village, among which is raising awareness about COVID-19.
She says, “My mother was very depressed while I was young. I still remember her crying day in and out, remembering my father. YCDA’s Anandini didi counselled her for many years. She has always encouraged me to study and would never let me do the household chores as it would affect my studies. She works really hard as a daily wager to support my education.”